Thursday, 26 November 2009

"Nothing tastes as good as being skinny feels!"

As I sit here at my computer and browse through my facebook friend list, I can pick out, straight away, eight girls who I know have eating disorders, and are painfully thin. Eight - and that's only counting those who have admitted in the past to being anorexic or bullimic. I very much suspect that at least ten more have some kind of eating problem, just by looking at their pictures and knowing their attitude to food.

Sure, I know it's ok to be slim. One of my best friends is tall, thin and eats like a horse - I've known her to eat a whole multi-pack of biscuits as one half of an afternoon snack, and yet she never puts on weight. Some people's metabolisms are built like that, I get it, and that's fine. But to be so thin that your spine sticks out, to be so mentally warped that you think a single apple for lunch is excessive, to be so set in this mental attitude that you have to be hospitalised and force-fed - that could not be justified as normal by anyone with half an ounce of common sense.

Really, you have to wonder therefore at the great juxtaposition of views that the media portray. I am an avid magazine reader, and it's always great to read about anorexia treatment, "why curvy is back in fashion", about the horror of pro-eating disorder websites and forums, and see pictures of normal women just like you in a "real-life special". I read articles like that, and think that the media is finally being pro-active in trying to tackle girls and womens' attitudes to weight. Good on them.
But here's the huge glaring problem: in the same magazines, I find four photoshoots, all featuring women who are, at most, a UK size 6-8; I find photos of skeletal celebrities labelled "gorgeous" and normal sized celebrities labelled "fat"; and I find a feature where a group of people are asked to talk about a size 10-12 woman's appearance, where they call her "overweight" and say she "could do with losing a few pounds".

And then, perhaps most disturbing of all, this morning I found the aforementioned article on Marie Claire's website, in which Kate Moss exclaims that her life motto is "nothing tastes as good as being skinny feels". The best bit is that the Marie Claire writer then added: "But before you recoil in total horror, the model mum did then redeem herself by, adding: ‘You try and remember, but it never works.'"

Oh, so it's all ok then. As long as it doesn't always work, but that she still does try to abide by the motto that starving yourself is the best way to live, then there's no need to be horrified, dear readers. It's all ok.

The thing is, Marie Claire is my favourite magazine. I've always applauded Marie Claire on being the only magazine who actually talk about curves in a positive way and seem mostly grounded in the real world. But by them posting this article, I feel somewhat let-down. I suppose they'd justify it by saying that it highlights how ridiculous Kate Moss' attitude to food is, and for me it has done just that, granted. But for one of my recovering anorexic friends, who idolises Kate Moss? Let's just say, I hope she doesn't find the time to browse any time soon.

Kate Moss is a beautiful woman, but I wish that her and the rest of society would learn that being skinny is not anything to aspire to. There is not a black and white line between being size zero and "fat", and I find it truly sad that anyone would actually think there is. I worked at a well-known UK fashion magazine for a few weeks, and it was only after the experience of seeing painfully thin, depressed-looking models come in for castings every day that I truly realised how warped the media attitude to this whole debate really is. They say that models are healthy and happy and don't have any problems, but in the flesh they paint a very different picture.

Curves are great and back in fashion, but only skinny people are allowed to be photographed in magazines? Sort it out, UK media, before you help create generations of paranoid, starving women.

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